Friday, 18 August 2006

Although they were separated by the width of the Atlantic Ocean, two Swedes were making significant waves in their respective tournaments in the USA and Europe. While Henrik Stenson – a former winner of the European Challenge Tour Rankings -  hustled the world’s best at Medinah, another of his countrymen and the current 2006 Rankings leader, Johan Axgren, had designs on reaching The European Tour.


Axgren moved stealthily through the field at Golf Club de Geneve to move into a three way tie at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Rolex Trophy for the Challenge Tour’s top 33 players with England’s Gareth Davies and Raphael Echenique of Argentina.


The Swede, who has already won twice this season, needs one more success to earn instant promotion to the big league with Stenson and Co on The European Tour. So far, things are going according to plan after a second successive 66 for a two round total of 132, 12 under par.


He shares that mark with Davies, who added a 67 to his opening 65, and Echenique, whose first round 67 was followed by an impressive 65. However Axgren had grounds for complaint that he wasn’t out in front on his own after dropping his first shot in 36 holes at the last on the perfectly manicured Golf Club de Geneve.


He said: “To have your first bogey of the tournament at the last hole of the second round is not the ideal way to approach the weekend, but overall I suppose I can’t complain. I couldn’t get the putter going over the first nine today but made some good ones coming home.”


Axgren, in fact, covered the inward nine in 32 assisted by five birdies and a succession of unerring putts before that closing bogey cost him the outright leadership.


The Rolex Trophy – played in a Pro-Am format – suits Axgren’s temperament perfectly. He explained: “In some ways, you can relax more playing with amateurs. You focus on their game and don’t watch leaderboards and suddenly you are right up there. It’s good fun – and I am certainly enjoying myself at the moment.”

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